Organization confronts transgender violence
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Following a spree of violence against members of the transgender community, transgender people and allies gathered to confront the issue.
Jada Cardona is the founder and executive director of an organization called Transitions Louisiana, which aims to help transgender individuals lead a happy, healthy life.
Cardona and her organization held a town hall meeting against transgender violence on March 10 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans. The meeting was specifically planned in response to the recent murders of two transgender women in New Orleans: Chyna Gibson and Ciara McElveen.
“I and my team are transgender women of color, and we feel that it’s gone too far, and we need to do something about it,” Cardona said.
According to police records, Gibson, a 31-year-old transgender woman, was shot to death the evening of Feb. 25 outside the Bella Plaza shopping center.
Less than three days later, police found McElveen, a 25-year-old transgender woman, lying face down and suffering from multiple stab wounds on the corner of North Claiborne Avenue and Columbus Street. She died after being taken to University Medical Center.
According to the Anti-Violence Project, there have been seven transgender murders in 2017 alone, three of which were in Louisiana. 2016 was the deadliest year on record, with 27 reported homicides against transgender individuals.
Teah Smith is a transgender woman who is crushed by the thought that her community is being targeted.
“We are here to live, we are human beings. We bleed the same blood that everybody else does, and we have to fight,” Smith said. “It’s a shame that we have to fight for our rights.”
Sharon McCall was one of many attendees who said she would like to see more action toward protecting the transgender community. She believes that this will also help protect the New Orleans community as a whole.
“Any violence that impacts transgender women also impacts heterosexual women, and all women,” McCall said. “We must not look at it from the perspective that this is a transgender issue. This is a woman issue.”
Event organizers said the next step is to coordinate with the New Orleans Police Department to implement strategies to protect transgender individuals and their rights.